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A gust of frigid air breezes past a busy platform nestled between the crevices of magic from the non-magical world. Loud commotion and excited chatter carries through the air like a percussion of uncoordinated instruments as noon draws close. 

Among the countless students and families littered across the platform in eager anticipation, Izuku Midoriya watches tensely as Hogwarts Express slows to a stop some feet away. 

“Maybe we could send you to another school, like Beauxbatons,” his mother says beside him, her thin grip tightening around his wrist like a band of iron. Under the pale autumn sunlight, she looks frail – as though a single breeze could knock her over – but he knows better than to blame the weather for her trembling hold. “It’s not too late for us to look at other schools, Izuku.”

The eleven year old boy swallows in response, eyes lingering on the huge, towering mass of train before him. His one-way trip to Hogwarts if he’s not careful. 

He takes a deep breath in, stepping away from his mom and sparing a quick glance around them before gently pulling her away from the crowds lined up by the railway. 

“I didn’t receive an invitation to attend Beauxbatons,” Izuku reminds her quietly, an echo of the words he’d spoken dozens of times in the summer. “You know why I have to do this, mom. Hogwarts is the only place where I can learn magic to protect myself.”

To protect us, he thinks but doesn’t say. 

“Oh I know, Izuku,” Inko sighs, wringing her hands nervously under her beige robes. Her regularly rosy complexion is pale, dark green hair a mess. “It’s just – are you really sure about this? Homeschooling isn’t a bad option. I could teach you what I remember and then we can make sure that…” she takes an unsteady breath. “We can make sure he won’t find you.”

Izuku’s stomach sinks. It’s a conscious effort not to frown, not to show outward panic. He doesn’t want to think about how terrified he really is – doesn’t want to think about all the ways things could go wrong. 

Hogwarts may be his best shot at learning self-defense, but it also carries the one risk they’ve run from his entire life. Rumor has it that the Shigaraki clan will be looking for a pureblood boy his age entering Slytherin or Gryfindor this year. If Izuku lands in the wrong house –

No –  no . he can’t afford to let these doubts fester right now. Izuku has spent his childhood weaving the strings of his life to create a tapestry showcasing loyalty and hard work. He’s spent years chasing after Katsuki, enduring magical burns and hexes from the pureblood bully, so that he’ll end up in the right house. 

He’s going to be Hufflepuff. He’s going to make it. He has to.  

“I’m going to be sorted into Hufflepuff,” Izuku says out loud, for himself as much as his mom. He forces a practiced smile, tilting his head up with false confidence. “After all, I take after my mom more than anyone else.”

The stress lines on Inko’s face loosen, the phantom of a smile fleeting across her lips. She squeezes his hands lightly. “That you do.”

At a distance, a sharp whistle blows, and the background chatter falls away in favor of the resounding shrill noise. Although not a single part of him wants to leave his mom alone, he forces himself to pull away from his mom and musters a parting smile. If he lets himself cry or hug her, he might just fall apart on the platform, and he can’t afford that now. 

Hufflepuffs are patient, he tells himself as he boards the train, trailing after Katsuki as the other boy’s parents usher him onto the train. The blond ditches him with a threat the second they’re alone, which is as predictable as it is irritating. 

But he pulls back from the urge to discreetly hex the other boy when he catches sight of his mom through the empty window of his compartment.

Dark bags hang under her eyes, the muted color of her skin punctuating the fearful and empty look on her face. Her normally well-kept hair runs rampant against each gust of wind. Despite the countless people fluttering around, she stands alone in the crowd, as still as a statue, staring up at the train vacantly. 

She looks too much like a ghost trapped among humans, unable to move or speak or breathe

Izuku sinks into his seat so he can’t see her. It’s a cowardly move, knowing that he put her in this state with his decision to go to Hogwarts, but he can’t help it. If the Shigaraki clan came knocking on their door, his potion-master mother would be powerless in face of their ancient magic. Izuku needs to learn how to be strong enough to protect her.

“Hufflepuffs are hardworking too,” he whispers, wrapping his arms around himself. He doesn’t think about what it’ll be like for his mom to be alone, doesn’t dwell on how quickly his plan can fall apart. 

Hufflepuffs are hardworking, and I’ve put enough hard work in to make the cut. 

—*—*—*—

Izuku’s plan to survive this year without getting found out relies on his knowledge of the Shigaraki clan. 

The Shigaraki clan is one of the Noble and Most Ancient Houses in the wizarding world. No one doesn’t know who they are. The dark family sits at the top of the political hierarchy with their dominant magical power and millennials of influence, a force to be reckoned with but never opposed. 

It’s a commonly known fact that the family controls the Ministry of Magic like puppeteers toying with marionettes, commandeering strings to get what they want. No one can make a major political or financial decision in the wizarding world without their permission, and the expanses of their influence stretch far across the globe. 

Hisashi Shigaraki – the head of the clan – is rumoured by many to be the second coming of the Dark Lord. 

Izuku knows better. No such thing as a second coming when the man is already controlling the masses at the flick of his hand. 

People who get on Hisashi's bad side lose their ability to perform magic – something entirely unheard of, considering many are spared their wands. Others have grown exponentially in magical ability and political power, but only if they’ve clearly earned the man’s favor. 

It’s not difficult to guess how the man manipulates others’ magic. The Dark Arts are generally forbidden because of their unruly power and potential for bending the natural laws.

All in all, the Shigarakis are powerful wizards of prestige and power, who should have nothing to do with him. 

While they search for the missing heir, allegedly stolen from the family as an infant, half-blood Izuku Akatani would be starting his magical education in Hufflepuff. 

It would be fine. Shigarakis were never Hufflepuffs. Izuku had this in the bag. 

It’s with this thought that Izuku steps into the Great Hall with the crowd of first years, head held high despite the pounding in his chest. Ochako Uraraka, the nice muggleborn girl he bumped into while getting off the train, is looking around awestruck, asking him questions about the school every other moment. 

While he listens to her absent-minded exclamations, he takes a moment to soak in the school. Magic sprinkles the air like invisible flurries of snow. Under the candle-lit light, long tables are filled with with students wearing colourful robes, catching up with their friends while comfortably falling back into their house familiarities.  

He’s content to savour the scene until he catches sight of unknown faces dawning dark robes, scattering around the perimeter of the room. Their wands are alight with the familiar glow of a scanning spell pointed towards the first-year crowd while dozens of eyes hungrily scour the group around him. A few older students look unsettled, but no one says anything to the dark-robes, clearly recognizing the well-recognized clothes of Shigaraki's people. 

A wave of unease thrums in Izuku's chest. The Shigarakis weren’t supposed to have any influence in Hogwarts. The school had always been a safe, neutral zone for students – so how did Shigaraki’s underlings get inside the school?

He swallows, ducking his head down as he trails a step behind Ochako. The appearance charms wrapped around him courtesy of his mom should be enough to mask his most prominent feature – his white hair. As long as it held up, he could still get by undetected.

“Hey Midoriya, is that the headmaster? I thought he was supposed to be… shorter,” Ochako murmurs beside him, and he forces himself to look up with a thrill of dread.

Standing on the Headmaster’s podium was a pale, gruff-looking man dressed in a black robe and battered hat. The man’s red eyes glance across the room at darkly dressed wizards with poorly-disguised disgust as students continue to trickle into the hall.

Oh. That wasn’t Headmaster Nedzu – that was Professor Aizawa. No wonder the school was overrun with Shigaraki’s people, Aizawa had nowhere as near the pull as Nedzu did. Where was the actual headmaster?

Izuku warily drops pace, nearly sinking to the back of the crowd. Things were going wildly off-script. He had expected something more subtle from Hisashi – not a literal mass of wizards invading the school to find Izuku

If the circumstances were different, perhaps Izuku would gawk at the floating candles, soft light illuminating the hall like twinkling stars. Maybe he would stare in awe at the house colours decorating the hall, pause in wonder at the gentle music of magic in the background. 

But as the group of first-years follow Professor King through the hall, stopping just before the professor’s tables, Izuku feels nothing but dread. 

“Welcome, Hogwarts students,” Aizawa starts in a rough tone, and the Hall’s music abruptly stops, chatter stagnating to a stop. “It’s great to see everyone back this year and our batch of new students. Unfortunately, the headmaster is unavailable for the evening and so I will be stepping in until his return.”

At the last statement, Izuku spares a glance at the other professors at the table. Most of them look unnerved, but a few seem obviously worried. Professor Kayama and Professor Yamada in particular are exchanging a look that makes Izuku’s stomach twist.

“My name is Professor Aizawa, and many of you already know me as your defense instructor. On that note, I’d like to remind everyone that Hogwarts is not about fun, it’s about learning. Anyone who tries to practice advanced spells from our senior classes unsupervised will be expelled while I’m stepping in,” Aizawa pauses his clearly just thrown-together speech with a frown. “Guess I should introduce our teaching staff now.”

The man falls into a monotone introduction of the faculty, which Izuku tunes out because he’s listened to his mom’s stories about the school enough to recognize the staff with one look. He’d rather prefer more context about the random people around them with scanning spells, thank you very much.

But no one says anything about it. The introductory ceremony feels awkward and stilted, but Aizawa makes no mention of Shigaraki's presence in the castle, and no one dares to speak up. Perhaps it's because everyone already knows why they're here, but that thought is as reassuring as Izuku's knowledge of his heritage. 

At some point, Ochako appears beside him with an apologetic look, probably thinking she lost him. He tries to smile back. It feels too much like a grimace.  

Eventually, Aizawa kicks off the sorting ceremony and the Great Hall falls into its first genuine thrill of excited chatter. The surrounding first-years start whispering among themselves about which house they think they'll end up in while the upper years speculate on their incoming batch.  

“Do you know what house you want to go into?” he whispers to Ochako as the first student is called onto stage. 

“Anything except Slytherin,” she mumbles half-distracted, eyes wide with awe as the hat shouts out a thundering "SLYTHERIN". “Apparently they don’t like mug – muggleborns.”

Izuku nods absently, wrapping his arms around himself. The newly-sorted Slytherin boy is taken aside by a dark-robe before he can reach the house table, being led to the back-corner of the room, and disappears behind the professors’ desks. He returns after two new students are sorted, eyes glazed and movement wary as he drops down into a seat at the Slytherin table. Moments later, tall dark-robed man reappears beside the podium with a heavy frown. 

Izuku’s grip around himself tightens. “I hope I don’t go there either.”

Unfortunately, there really aren’t that many students to be sorted before him. Too soon, Aizawa is looking up from his parchment with a tired gaze, letting out a painstaking sigh. 

“Izuku Akatani,” the man calls with no enthusiasm, and Izuku tenses in his spot. A beat passes, but his feet don’t move, heart racing faster than a snitch. 

Everything comes down to this moment. If Izuku messes this up – if he gets caught and they find mom – their carefully crafted life of lies will fall apart like a broken house of cards and he’d be the only one to blame. 

Distantly, he feels Ochako nudge him gently, hears confused whispers grow louder the longer no one steps forward. Aizawa’s permanent frown grows, and he calls out again, “Izuku Akatani, if you have a set of ears, use them now, please.”

He takes a low, shaky breath. Forces his shoulders to roll down, counts a steady rhythm in his head until he can hear his heartbeat slow. In less than ten minutes, he’ll be sitting at the Hufflepuff table and things will be fine. 

Raising his chin under the guise of calmness, he starts to move forward, but before he can step away from the crowd, a sharp prick of heat alights across his back and he yelps, stumbling out of the group as pain rushes through his body. 

He twists on his heel and is entirely unsurprised to see Katsuki Bakugo shoving a hazelwood wand back into his pocket with a smug look. The familiar hex is one he’s grown used to over the years – one he’s so sick and tired of – and so it it's not a surprise when his nerves fray into a brittle, hot-white anger.

For the first time, he doesn't try to douse the angry fire in his chest. 

Katsuki seems to startle at the look on Izuku’s face just before a burst of magic springs into the air. The blond’s hair momentarily spasms into a bright, fluorescent pink and the crowd of first-years gasp, a few snickering under their breath, before the wandless magic wears out and his hair fades back into blond.

Izuku turns back toward the podium before he ride the waves of petty glee at the glorious sight of pink-haired Katsuki. It would a little funny to provoke the other boy into a fight before he was placed (after all, it’s easier to expel an unsorted student than a sorted one), but Izuku is a Hufflepuff, and Hufflepuffs aren’t petty. 

Plus, faking an accidental magic incident is a lot easier when you’re not smiling like a self-satisfied jerk after it. 

Anxiety mostly quelled, he strides up to the podium with only a slight fidget. Aizawa doesn’t look impressed when Izuku drops into the sorting seat, grumbling something about “problem children” before dropping the sorting hat onto the greenet’s head.

A rush of magic dowses the air around him the moment the hat touches his hair. He stiffens at the unfamiliar sensation, and the world before him fades away against the ancient presence lying on his head.

“Ah, a Shigaraki,” a raspy voice whispers and Izuku’s heart drops in his chest with the weight of a bowling ball. It takes him a moment to realize it’s the hat’s voice that is speaking inside his mind, but the realization provides no comfort as the hat continues, “It’s been sometime since I’ve seen one of your family.” 

“I only belong to the Midoriya clan,” Izuku murmurs immediately, fingers tight around the wooden stool. He knows better than to lie to something inside his head, but he can push his point across. “I haven’t ever claimed the… other house before.”

“Why, because your mother told you to reject your heritage?” The hat asks, tone tinged with disapproval. “Is that what you’re about Mikumo Shigaraki? Following blindly what others tell you?”

Izuku grits his teeth, nerves forgotten as his fingers dig into the chestnut wood. He hates how the hat says his name wrong – hates its unspoken judgement and mocking tone. 

No. I’m a Midoriya because I’m a light wizard – I don't dabble in the dark arts like my father,” Izuku hisses with a shake of his head. “And I don’t listen to others without using my own brain first. In this case, I have enough common sense to recognize that my mom is right for protecting me from – from that man.”

“So you listen to your mother without caring to see the other side,” the Sorting Hat observes. “You follow in the footsteps of others without stopping to look at the world around you.” 

Izuku’s face twists into a scowl. “I don’t need to see the other side to know that if they found me, I’d never see mom again! They’d make me something I’m not – they’d, they’d force me into a mould and –”

He catches himself before he can start hissing more accusations. This – this isn’t going the way it should. The Sorting Hat was supposed to see through his memories, look at those blasted years he spent chasing Katsuki as a promise of childhood loyalty, and place him in Hufflepuff. 

If nothing else, the artifact should’ve at least picked up on all the hard work he put into following the blond boy around, despite the fact that Katsuki would regularly hex Izuku every chance he could.

“You're a cunning and clever child, willing to make great sacrifices on your personality and appearance to reach your goals,” the Sorting Hat remarks contemplatively. “Your ambitions for greatness have been stunted by your fear, but you could do great things the moment you’re rid of them.”

As the words run through his head, Izuku reels back on the stool with dawning horror. “No, wait. I’m not – you can’t –”

“My job is to place you where you’ll thrive, not where you think that’ll be,” the Sorting Hat says without a hint of remorse. Aloud, the hat’s voice thunders across the room, “Better be SLYTHERIN!”

Izuku freezes in his seat. The hall’s silence is deafening, not a single clap ringing out as slowly the other houses fall into whispers and Slytherin looks collectively unimpressed. The weight of everyone’s gaze feels like a callosum on his shoulders, as if the burden of his failure isn’t enough.

A half-blood in Slytherin isn't unheard of, but still less common after these past few decades, after the last war. With his unrecognizable fake last name, Izuku can practically imagine the hell that awaits him in the green house.

Surprisingly, the only person who rises to his aid is Katsuki, who lets out a loud, accidental explosion of magic in the crowd, quickly repelling the crowd around him. 

“No way in hell is useless Deku a Slytherin,” the blond explodes, face red with rage. The hall falls back into silence as the boy stomps forward. “He’s a wimp! He should go where he belongs, with the useless Huff –”

A flash of white flies across the podium and wraps around Katsuki’s mouth before the boy can continue. It takes him a moment to recognize the object as Aizawa’s scarf, which has extended a considerable distance to wrap around the boy’s mouth and shut him up.

“This type of childish behaviour will not be tolerated in Hogwarts,” Aizawa says sharply, tightening the scarf with a tense squeeze. “This is your first strike, kid. Get another and you’re expelled.”

Aizawa doesn’t release the scarf until Katsuki nods shortly in response. The Great Hall falls into a tense silence as the material wraps itself around the Professor’s neck again. 

“Akatani, go join your housemates at your table,” Aizawa says, voice monotone again as he jerks his head towards the Slytherin table. 

Izuku swallows. In a quiet voice, he says, “Um, sir, I think there’s been a mistake –”

“The Sorting Hat doesn’t make mistakes.” The Professor fixes him with a deadpan look. “Stop wasting everyone’s time and join the Slytherins, kid.”

The greenet stares, uncomprehending. A beat later, Aizawa sighs again before lightly nudging him off the stool until he’s stumbling off the podium, another student climbing up behind him.  

He staggers down the stairs with shaky legs, hands trembling and chest tight. Izuku can survive the Slytherin house – he knows he has enough sense to sidestep their politics as long as he has to – but he really can’t hide from the Shigaraki clan there. 

The empty feeling of numbness that gnaws at his stomach is a familiar one. Years of trying to be strong for his mother, hours teaching himself wandless magic for basic defense – all his plans and efforts, hopes and dreams, washed down the drain within the blink of an eye. 

When the tall, round man in black clothing grabs Izuku’s sleeve and tugs him to the side, he can do nothing but blindly stumble after him. He’s not grounded enough to plot or plan anything right now beyond putting one foot in front of the other. 

Shigaraki’s underling – Gigantomachia, according embroidered name on the man's sleeve – leads him around the Professor’s table and out a door leading into one of Hogwarts many long hallways. They twist and turn down a few long, stone halls before Gigantomachia is pushing open a dark oak door, stepping inside with Izuku’s wrist in his hold.

The haze of defeat quickly evaporates as Izuku looks around the unfamiliar room. It’s fairly sparse, save for a few empty wooden chairs scattered to the side and a cluster of upper-year Slytherins and dark-robed adults in the opposite corner. The small group is crowded around a steel table, speaking among themselves in low tones. 

A tint of scarlet glints at him from the desk, but he can’t see more before the small gap within the crowd is closed again. With a blink, Izukk looks away to the centre of the room where a boy stands alone, arms crossed impassively as Izuku is brought forward.

It takes a moment, but his heart skips a beat when he processes who the lone person is.

Sole heir to the Shigaraki clan and one of the most dangerous wizards of his age, Tomura Shigaraki stands tall and proud in dark green robes. His light, greasy hair is hazardously tied up, crimson eyes set into a harsh glare as Gigantomachia draws close, dragging Izuku behind him. 

Izuku shrinks in on himself as they approach. Maybe neglecting invisibility magic over magical politics the summer was a mistake. What he wouldn’t give to just disappear right now. 

“Another one already?” Tomura snarks in a raspy voice as they stop before him, Gigantomachia finally letting go. Tomura barely spares Izuku a fleeting glance, scratching his neck in an agitated motion before turning his glare back on the underling. “You’re just wasting my time at this point. This one doesn’t even look like Sensei.”

The giant beside him frowns. “Lord wants –”

“I know what Sensei wants, and it isn’t this,” Tomura sneers, gesturing at Izuku, who unsuccessfully tries to hide further into his robes. “The longer this takes, the longer my little brother is separated from us by that wench. Just get the brat’s blood tested and move on, I don’t have time to waste interviewing these useless NPCs.”

“But Lord said you’re supposed to –” Gigantomachia starts, but the teenager cuts him off with a dismissive wave, twisting his neck towards the small crowd by the steel table.

“Toga!” Tomura shouts, forcing the background chatter to silence. “Get over here and take this brat’s blood!”

The greenet stiffens at the words. They want his blood ? Absolutely not. There are way too many blood-magic spells that can have him found out in minutes. He might be able to get away with his fake identity if he can just talk them out of –

Izuku yelps, stumbling back as something sharp stings his left arm. His fingers fly up to his robes, where a painful tingling has spread close to his shoulder. 

A few feet away, a yellow-eyed Slytherin girl is holding a thin needle with a tint of crimson at its top while wielding a maniac grin. His heart drops and she spins on her heel and skips back to the small group.

Great! he thinks half-hysterically as he takes a step back, moving closer to the exit. They have my blood now!

“You may as well take him back now,” Tomura huffs dismissively and Gigantomachia grudgingly grabs him again. The teenager’s eyes slide back to Izuku briefly as he moves to turn, but then he visibly pauses. “Wait, stop.” 

Izuku tries to take another step back as Tomura strides closer but Gigantomachia’s firm grip keeps him planted in his spot. The other boy’s signature scowl fades with each step until he’s barely an arm's lenght away, staring at Izuku with an uncomfortable amount of scrutiny. 

For a moment, silence seems to stretch out between them while Izuku’s heart pounds in his ears. What now? 

Can’t he have a single moment to panic about his inevitable doom? Plan an escape? Something, please ?

“What’s your name?” Tomura asks suddenly, and Izuku ducks his head under the teenager’s intense gaze with a swallow. You’re not supposed to look the Noble Houses in the face or something, right? 

“Iz – Izuku Akatani,” he stutters. 

“Something’s wrong about you, Akatani,” Tomura muses, and Izuku’s blood freezes in his veins when the boy’s dark wand appears under chin, forcing his face up at Tomura again. The heir frowns, displeasure and frustration tugging at his chapped face as his eyes look Izuku over. “Something’s really wrong. But what is it?”

Izuku’s mouth runs dry, mouth opening but nothing coming out. Tomura could kill him with a single world right now, and with Gigantomachia’s iron grip around his arm, Izuku could do nothing but wither to death under the killing curse, or worse.  

Suddenly, being found out as a Shigaraki was the least of his worries. 

Hisashi Shigaraki is known for his power and influence, while Tomura Shigaraki is famous for his unstable temper and rapid magical mood swings. One wrong look, and the only thing left of your body is dust. 

“I don’t – I – I don’t know,” Izuku stammers, trembling as Tomura idly taps his wand on the greenet’s chest. “I’m – I’m sorry, I – I don’t –”

Something flashes across Tomura’s crimson eyes, and he pulls the wand away abruptly, taking a quick step back. The look on the teenager’s face quickly morphs into something deeply disturbed, and then grim determination. Before Izuku can process any of those changes, he lifts the wand up and speaks a single word. 

“Revelare,” Tomura whispers, and a flash of brightness drowns Izuku’s eyesight with blinding radiance.

When the world fades back into colour, the first thing he notices is stinging static in his ears, its unsteady hum clashing against his thundering heartbeat. Something dark moves against the corner of his eye, and he stumbles back through a wave of nausea.

Viridian eyes fall on the pale form of Tomura Shigaraki for heartbeat. Wide crimson eyes gape at him, jaw dropped open and posture tense – 

No. Izuku stumbles back from the boy with a flare of panic. No, nO, NO –

Something cool and firm wraps around his wrist as he twists, and his fears are confirmed as he catches sight of his reflection in the steel clamp secured around his arm.

Hair as white as snow, eyes green like emeralds and freckles scattered like a starlit sky. Every trace of Izuku Akatani has been erased.

And now Mikumo Shigaraki stood in his place.